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Dodgers defeat Arizona to complete perfect homestand

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Max Muncy in congratulated by teammates after hitting a home run in the fifth inning.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Dodgers extend winning streak to six with a 5-3 victory over the Diamondbacks.

Dodgers defeat the Diamondbacks 5-3; Giants lose

Their pursuit of the San Francisco Giants was beginning to feel like a Sisyphean task for the Dodgers, who couldn’t seem to gain ground on the National League West leaders no matter how well they played.

The Dodgers won the first five games of their six-game homestand and couldn’t cut into San Francisco’s lead. They won seven of nine entering Wednesday and actually lost ground because the Giants had won nine straight.

But the Giants finally slipped Wednesday night, and the Dodgers took advantage, pushing that huge stone closer to the top of the hill with a 5-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks in front of a crowd of 46,520 in Chavez Ravine.

The Dodgers’ sixth straight win, combined with San Francisco’s 9-6 loss to San Diego, moved the Dodgers to within 11/2 games of the Giants with 15 games left and marked the first time since Sept. 4 that the Dodgers had gained ground on their division rivals.

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We go to the ninth, 5-3 Dodgers

Diamondbacks: Right-hander Blake Treinen now pitching for the Dodgers. Marte walked on six pitches. Kelly grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. Walker walked on six pitches. Rojas lined to second.

Dodgers: Right-hander Noe Ramirez now pitching for the Diamondbacks. Albert Pujols, batting for Treinen, grounded to short. Betts doubled to left. Betts stole third on a 2-and-2 pitch to Muncy. Muncy flied to left. T.Turner struck out swinging.

Score after eight: Dodgers 5, Diamondbacks 3

Score in SF: Padres 7, Giants 5 after eight

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It’s 5-3 Dodgers after seven innings

Diamondbacks: Left-hander Alex Vesia now pitching for the Dodgers. Young lined to right. Varsho struck out swinging. Pavin Smith, batting for the pitcher, was at the plate when three idiot “fans” ran on the field. They were subdued. Smith was hit by a pitch. Which is why that was a bad time to run on the plate if you are a Dodger fan, because you threw off Vesia’s groove. And that’s it for Vesia, right-hander Joe Kelly now pitching for the Dodgers. Ahmed grounded to third, forcing Smith.

Dodgers: Right-hander Taylor Widener now pitching for the Diamondbacks. Smith grounded to third. Young threw the ball past first, but the ball caromed right to Marte and threw Smith out at second. Bellinger popped to short. Lux struck out swinging.

Score after seven: Dodgers 5, Giants 3

Score in SF: Padres 7, Giants 5 in seventh inning

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Dodgers take 5-3 lead in the sixth inning

Diamondbacks: Right-hander Phil Bickford now pitching for the Dodgers. Kelly struck out swinging. Walker homered to center. Rojas grounded to short. Ramos struck out swinging.

Dodgers: Matt Beaty, batting for Bickford, was hit by a pitch. Betts singled to right, Beaty to second. That’s it for Poppen. Left-hander Joe Mantiply now pitching for the Diamondbacks. Muncy grounded into a 6-3 double play. Muncy was limping noticeably down the line. T.Turner hit a medium grounder to second and beat it out for a hit, scoring Beaty. Unbelievable speed. Seager singled to right-center, Turner to third. And that’s it for Mantiply. Right-hander Brandyn Sittinger now pitching for the Diamondbacks. J.Turner lined to center.

Score after six: Dodgers 5, Diamondbacks 3

Score in SF: Padres 5, Giants 3 after six innings

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Dodgers take 4-2 lead on Max Muncy’s home run

Diamondbacks: Varsho reached on a bunt single to first. Kelly struck out attempting to bunt. Ahmed struck out swinging. Marte lined to right.

Dodgers: Muncy homered to right, estimated at 398 feet. T.Turner popped to second. Seager grounded to third. J.Turner singled to right-center. Smith singled to left-center, Turner to third, Smith to second on the throw to third. And that’s it for Kelly, right-hander Sean Poppen now pitching for the Diamondbacks. With a 3-0 count, Bellinger was walked intentionally. Lux flied to left.

Score after five: Dodgers 4, Diamondbacks 2

Score in SF: Padres 5, Giants 2 after five innings

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It’s 3-2 Dodgers after four

Diamondbacks: Marte walked on six pitches. Kelly flied to center. Walker singled to right, Marte to second. Rojas grounded to second, forcing Walker. First and third, two out. Rojas stole second. Ramos singled to center, scoring Marte and Rojas. Young flied to right.

Dodgers: J.Turner singled to center. Smith doubled to left, Turner to third. Bellinger grounded into the shift, Turner scoring, Smith to third. Lux singled to right, scoring Smith. Urías sacrificed, Lux to second. Betts flied deep to left, Ramos made a running catch and jumped into the fence. Great play.

Score after four: Dodgers 3, Diamondbacks 2

Score in SF: Padres 5, Giants 2 after four innings

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It’s 1-0 Dodgers after three

Diamondbacks: Daulton Varsho flied to right. Merrill Kelly struck out swinging. Ahmed grounded to second.

Dodgers: Betts flied to center. Muncy singled to right-center. Muncy was caught stealing. Initially called safe but overturned on review. Trea Turner walked on five pitches. Turner stole second. Seager flied to center.

Score after three: Dodgers 1, Diamondbacks 0

Score in SF: Padres 5, Giants 2 in the third inning

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Dodgers take 1-0 lead on Gavin Lux’s single

Diamondbacks: Christian Walker flied to left. Josh Rojas walked on four pitches. Henry Ramos fouled to first. Andrew Young struck out swinging.

Dodgers: Corey Seager popped to short. Justin Turner singled to left-center. Will Smith walked on five pitches. Cody Bellinger singled to right, loading the bases with one out. Gavin Lux singled to right, scoring Turner, bases still loaded. Julio Urías grounded into a 5-4-3 double play.

Score after two: Dodgers 1, Diamondbacks 0

Score in SF during the second: Padres 5, Giants 1

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No score after one inning at Dodger Stadium

Diamondbacks: Left-hander Julio Urías pitching for the Dodgers. Nick Ahmed fouled to third. Ketel Marte popped to first. Carson Kelly struck out looking at a pitch that was outside.

Dodgers: Right-hander Merrill Kelly pitching for the Diamondbacks. Mookie Betts flied to right. Max Muncy struck out swinging. Trea Turner popped to first.

Score after one: Dodgers 0, Diamondbacks 0

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Is Dave Roberts the best manager in history?

Dave Roberts
(Associated Press)

Dave Roberts, best manager in baseball history?

Perhaps that sentence should end with a period instead of a question mark. The Dodgers are in the playoffs, again. Never have the Dodgers missed the postseason in a year Roberts has managed them.

For all the never-ending second-guessing from an engaged and spirited fan base, this statistic speaks for itself: Nobody in major league history has managed more games with a better winning percentage.

Roberts’ career winning percentage is .618. That averages to 100 wins per season.

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Julio Urías looks to increase major-league win total

The Dodgers will play their fifth straight game without left fielder Chris Taylor, who aggravated a neck injury while making a leaping catch at the wall last Friday night, when they take on the Arizona Diamondbacks in a 7 p.m. game in Chavez Ravine on Wednesday.

Gavin Lux, who had never started a big-league game in the outfield before last week, will make his fifth straight start in left field for the Dodgers, who have won five straight and seven of the last nine but remain 2 ½ games behind the San Francisco Giants in the National League West with 16 games left.

Manager Dave Roberts said Taylor “improved considerably” on Tuesday and, after taking batting practice on the field, he will “be available off the bench in some capacity tonight.” The Dodgers are off on Thursday, and Taylor could return to the lineup Friday in Cincinnati.

Dodgers left-hander Julio Urías (17-3, 2.98 ERA) will make his 29th start of the season, this time against Arizona right-hander Merrill Kelly (7-9, 4.30 ERA).

Urías, who has struck out 175 and walked 33 in 163 1/3 innings and leads the major leagues in wins, threw seven shutout innings against the Padres last Friday night. He has a 1.74 ERA in 10 starts since the All-Star break and is 5-1 with a 1.47 ERA in seven career games against the Diamondbacks.

A Dodgers offense that hit .198 with a .625 on-base-plus-slugging percentage and averaged just 3.8 runs in 22 games from Aug. 19 through Saturday night is beginning to heat up.

The Dodgers have hit .302 (29 for 96) with a .995 OPS, seven home runs, eight doubles, 11 walks and only 18 strikeouts while scoring 21 runs in their last three games. In Tuesday night’s 8-4 win over Arizona they forced starter Luke Weaver to throw 72 pitches in the first three innings.

“The at-bat quality, one through nine, every inning, keeps getting better and better,” third baseman Justin Turner said. “When the offense is good, you see us grinding on starting pitchers and getting that pitch count up and getting to the bullpen early, and we’ve done a good job of that lately.”

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Dodgers beat Arizona and clinch their ninth consecutive playoff berth

VIDEO | 03:14
Justin Turner and Dave Roberts talk about Dodgers clinching ninth consecutive playoff berth

The Dodgers became the second team to clinch a postseason berth in 2021, officially extending their streak of playoff appearances to nine seasons, with their 8-4 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday.

It’s a checkpoint just 10 of 30 clubs will reach. They reached it despite having several key contributors miss significant periods of time and using more players than any other team in franchise history. They just rather would have waited another day.

The Dodgers sealed their spot Tuesday because the San Diego Padres lost to the San Francisco Giants, the overnight juggernaut the Dodgers are still chasing for the coveted National League West title. As a result, instead of gaining a game on the Giants in the standings, the Dodgers remained 2½ games behind their rivals to the north in the division race with 16 games remaining in the regular season.

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Kenley Jansen pitches a 1-2-3 ninth inning in Dodgers win

Kenley Jansen retired the Diamondbacks in order in the ninth inning to secure an 8-4 win and a playoff berth.

The Dodgers improved to 93-53 and picked up their fifth consecutive win. Home runs by Max Muncy, Trea Turner and Will Smith powered the victory.

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Dodgers can clinch a playoff berth tonight with a win

Diamondbacks: Blake Treinen became the fourth Dodgers pitcher of the game, promptly striking out David Peralta for the Dodgers’ 10the strikeout as part of a 1-2-3 inning.

Dodgers: Albert Pujols singles before Mookie Betts grounds into a 6-4-3 double play.

With the Giants’ win over the Padres tonight, the Dodgers will clinch a postseason berth with a win over Arizona.

End of the eighth: Dodgers 8, Diamondbacks 4

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Justin Turner and Will Smith drive in runs to give Dodgers 8-4 lead

Justin Turner and Will Smith each drove in runs on sacrifice flies to give the Dodgers an 8-4 lead in the seventh inning.

Muncy and Trea Turner drew walks off Arizona reliever Brett de Geus to lead off the inning before Corey Seager lined to right to load the bases with no outs.

Justin Turner drove in Muncy on a fly to deep right field before Smith plated Trea Turner on a popup to left, ending de Geus’ stint on the mound. Diamondbacks reliever Joe Mantiply got Cody Bellinger to line out to short to cap the inning.

End of the seventh: Dodgers 8, Diamondbacks 4

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Ketel Marte hits three-run home run to cut into the Dodgers’ lead

Arizona's Ketel Marte, right, celebrates his three-run home run with Christian Walker during the seventh inning.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Arizona’s Ketel Marte hit a three-run home run off Dodgers reliever Justin Bruihl to make it 6-4 Dodgers in the seventh inning.

Marte’s 12th home run of the season was the first home run Bruihl has given up at the major-league level.

Henry Ramos led off with a single before Christian Walker hit another single two at-bats later. Bruihl got out of the inning by getting Daulton Varsho to fly out to Justin Turner.

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Will Smith hits solo home run to give Dodgers a 6-1 lead

Will Smith hit a solo home run off Diamondbacks reliever Jake Faria to give the Dodgers a 6-1 lead in the sixth inning.

Smith’s 24th home run of the season — and the third of the night by the Dodgers — was a no-doubter, landing well beyond the wall in the left-field pavilion.

Cody Bellinger drew a walk after Smith’s home and reached second on a Gavin Lux groundout before Mookie Betts flied out to center field to end the inning.

End of the sixth: Dodgers 6, Diamondbacks 1

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Diamondbacks get on the scoreboard against David Price

Dodgers relief pitcher David Price delivers during the sixth inning.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

David Peralta hit a run-scoring double off Dodgers reliever David Price to make it 5-1 Dodgers in the sixth inning.

Price gave up singles to Josh Rojas and Ketel Marte to start his relief stint, with Rojas scoring on Peralta’s double into left-center field.

After Peralta’s double, Price struck out Pavin Smith and Josh VanMeter to limit the damage.

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Dodgers take 5-0 lead on Trea Turner’s solo home run

Trea Turner watches his solo home run during the fifth inning against the Diamondbacks.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Trea Turner hit a solo home run off Diamondbacks reliever Jake Faria to give the Dodgers a 5-0 lead in the fifth inning.

Turner crushed his 22nd home run of the season into the left-field pavilion.

Diamondbacks: Dodgers pitcher Tony Gonsolin allowed a leadoff walk to Josh VanMeter but benefited from Henry Ramos hitting into a 4-6-3 double play on the next at-bat. After Jake McCarthy singled, Gonsolin struck out Andrew Young on three pitches.

David Price will take over on the mound for Gonsolin in the sixth inning.

End of the fifth: Dodgers 5, Diamondbacks 0

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Dodgers lead 4-0 heading into the fifth inning

Dodgers starter Tony Gonsolin delivers during the first inning Tuesday.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Diamondbacks: Ketel Marte hit a leadoff single off Tony Gonsolin, who retired the next three batters in order. Gonsolin has given up one hit and has struck out five over 54 pitches.

Dodgers: The Dodgers went down in order.

End of the fourth: Dodgers 4, Diamondbacks 0

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Max Muncy hits two-run home run to help give Dodgers 4-0 lead

Max Muncy celebrates after hitting a two-run home run in the third inning.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Max Muncy used Albert Pujols’ bat to pound out a two-run home run before a Diamondbacks fielding error plated another run, giving the Dodgers a 4-0 lead in the third inning.

Muncy’s 33rd home run of 2021 was the second-longest home run at Dodger Stadium this season, landing 436 feet away in right-center field. Pujols was laughing in the dugout as he watched Muncy run the bases.

Mookie Betts, who led off the inning with a single to right, scored on Muncy’s homer.

After the home run, Corey Seager reached first on a fielding error by Arizona second baseman Ketel Marte. Seager later scored on another error when Diamondbacks pitcher Luke Weaver made a bad throw to second, trying to start a potential double play off a Will Smith comebacker. The double play came one at-bat later when Cody Bellinger hit a grounder to first.

Diamondbacks: Dodgers starter Tony Gonsolin walked Henry Ramos to leadoff the inning, then struck out Jake McCarthy for his fourth strikeout of the game.

Weaver’s sacrifice bunt moved Ramos to second, but Josh Rojas lined out to Mookie Betts in right field for out No. 3.

End of the third: Dodgers 4, Diamondbacks 0

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Tony Gonsolin looking sharp early on for Dodgers

Diamondbacks at the plate: Tony Gonsolin opened the inning with his third consecutive strikeout, fooling David Peralta on a 95-mph fastball. Pavin Smith and Josh VanMeter each flied out to center to make it a 1-2-3 inning.

Dodgers at the plate: Arizona starter Luke Weaver retires the Dodgers in order, striking out Gavin Lux and Gonsolin in the process.

End of the second: Dodgers 1, Diamondbacks 0

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Trea Turner’s run-scoring double gives Dodgers a 1-0 lead

Max Muncy gestures after hitting a double in the first inning against the Diamondbacks on Tuesday.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Trea Turner hit a run-scoring double off Diamondbacks starter Luke Weaver to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead in the first inning.

Turner’s 30th double of the season was a laser down the right-field line, scoring Max Muncy from second. Muncy hit a out-one double into right field on what looked to be a routine fly ball until Pavin Smith misjudged the ball’s trajectory, letting it fall behind him. Muncy couldn’t believe his luck as he smiled and shook his head while standing on second.

Turner stole third for his league-leading 28th stolen base of the season, but was left stranded when Justin Turner struck out and Will Smith flied out.

Diamondbacks first baseman Seth Beer sustained a dislocated should while trying make a diving stop on Turner’s hit and left the game.

Diamondbacks at the plate: Tony Gonsolin got off to a strong start, striking out Ketel Marte and Daulton Varsho as part of a 12-pitch frame.

Gonsolin is making his second start since coming off the injured list with right should inflammation. He allowed one run and three hits over three innings against the St. Louis Cardinals last week.

End of the first: Dodgers 1, Diamondbacks 0

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Kenley Jansen reinstated from paternity list for game against D-Backs

Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Kenley Jansen (74) stands on the mound.
Dodgers relief pitcher Kenley Jansen stands on the mound during a win over the San Diego Padres on Sept. 10.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen has been reinstated from the paternity list for Tuesday night’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Chavez Ravine, where Dodgers right-hander Tony Gonsolin (2-1, 2.79 ERA) will oppose Arizona right-hander Luke Weaver (3-4, 4.24 ERA) in a 7 p.m. game.

Jansen, who closed last week by pitching on three straight days for the first time this season, went on leave Sunday, the day his wife, Gianni, gave birth to their third child, a daughter named Key’Gia Keziah Jansen. Jansen is 2-4 with a 2.43 ERA and 32 saves in 59 games, with 70 strikeouts and 34 walks in 59 1/3 innings.

Gonsolin, who has been limited by shoulder inflammation to only 11 games this season, will be making his second start since being activated off the injured list earlier this month.

He gave up one earned run and three hits, struck out three and walked two in three innings of last Thursday’s 2-1 loss in St. Louis. He needed 22 of his 55 pitches to complete the first inning. Manager Dave Roberts is looking for Gonsolin to throw four innings and about 60 pitches and to be more efficient tonight.

Dodgers pitcher Max Scherzer is closing in on a possible fourth Cy Young Award. But he also might set a record for his futile efforts as a hitter.

“The plan is for him to fill up the strike zone and use his entire mix,” Roberts said. “His last outing, I felt there was some good throws in there, but working deep into counts, getting behind guys and having to pitch out of some stress makes it a little more difficult. But when he’s right and commanding the baseball, he’s very good.”

The Dodgers, who have won four straight games to remain 2½ games behind the National League West-leading San Francisco Giants with 17 games left, will play their fourth straight game without left fielder Chris Taylor, who aggravated a neck injury while making a leaping catch at the wall Friday night against the San Diego Padres.

“He’s getting treatment right now, and I’m not sure how much he’ll do today, so I don’t see how he’s available,” Roberts said Tuesday afternoon. “So we’ll just see how he comes in tomorrow.”

Roberts said outfielder AJ Pollock, on the injured list since Sept. 5, because of a left-hamstring strain, will take simulated bats in Dodger Stadium this weekend while the team plays in Cincinnati and report to the team’s training facility in Phoenix on Monday to begin playing games.

The team will probably decide by the middle of next week whether Pollock, who is batting .297 with an .861 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, 16 homers and 58 RBIs, will need a brief minor league rehabilitation stint before being activated.

DODGERS LINEUP: RF Mookie Betts, 1B Max Muncy, 2B Trea Turner, SS Corey Seager, 3B Justin Turner, C Will Smith, CF Cody Bellinger, LF Gavin Lux, RHP Tony Gonsolin.

DIAMONDBACKS LINEUP: SS Josh Rojas, 2B Ketel Marte, C Daulton Varsho, LF David Peralta, RF Pavin Smith, 3B Josh VanMeter, 1B Seth Beer, CF Jake McCarthy, RHP Luke Weaver.

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Justin Turner, Max Scherzer named nominees for Roberto Clemente Award

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner runs the bases after hitting a solo home run.
Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner runs the bases after hitting a solo home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Last winter, when Justin Turner was a free agent, returning to the Dodgers seemed inevitable. There were obvious reasons. He still had pop in his bat. He was a clubhouse leader. He was the beloved red-headed fan favorite. But the connection went deeper in Los Angeles.

Turner, a Lakewood native, and his wife, Kourtney, dove headfirst into the community when he first joined the Dodgers in 2014. Two years later, they launched the Justin Turner Foundation, an organization that supports homeless veterans, children battling illnesses and youth baseball organizations with an annual golf tournament and other events. Last year, during the pandemic, they worked partnered with the Dream Center and local restaurants to help serve over 10,000 meals a day.

That outreach led to Turner being named the Dodgers’ nominee for the 2021 Roberto Clemente award on Tuesday. It’s the fourth time in five years that Turner was chosen as the team’s nominee he was also one of the 30 finalists in 2017, 2018, and 2020.

Dodgers pitcher Max Scherzer was selected as the Washington Nationals’ nominee; the Nationals traded Scherzer to Los Angeles at the July 30 deadline. Scherzer, the frontrunner for the NL Cy Young Award, is a nominee for the first time.

Clayton Kershaw is the last Dodger to win the award in 2012.

“It’s something that’s really special to myself and my wife, Kourtney, something we take a lot of pride in is giving back to the community, helping people who are less fortunate, people in need, helping people get up after getting knocked down and getting back on their feet,” Turner said. “And to be the nominee on this team, with a lot of guys who do a lot of great things in our community is pretty special and something we don’t take for granted.”

On the field, Turner clubbed his 25th home run of the season and fourth in 24 at-bats in Monday’s win over the Arizona Diamondbacks after going three weeks without a homer. He’s two home runs shy of trying his career high set in 2016 and 2019. He’s batting .275 with an .839 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 134 games this season.

“Just putting in the work,” Turner said. “I feel like I kind of got my timing back again. I felt like I was there for a while.”

Turner, 36, has managed to avoid the injured list in 2021 after missing time last season with a hamstring strain. He is readying for another October run in search of another World Series title; the Dodgers were in position to clinch a playoff spot for the ninth straight season as early as Tuesday. His work will continue after that, off the field, in his community.

“Obviously, we have a job to do, and that’s to perform under the lights at 7 p.m.,” Turner saud. “But it’s more than just baseball, it’s a responsibility to our fans, to our communities, to give back, to help people in need. That’s the biggest priority.”

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Dodgers pitcher Max Scherzer closing in on wrong kind of history at the plate

Dodgers starting pitcher Max Scherzer bats against the Padres on Sept. 12.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Max Scherzer, somehow, might be peaking on the mound.

At 37 years old, he’s a front-runner to win his fourth Cy Young Award with three weeks remaining in his 14th major league season. He became the 19th pitcher to reach 3,000 career strikeouts and nearly threw a perfect game Sunday. In eight starts as a Dodger, he’s held opponents to five earned runs with 72 strikeouts and five walks over 51 innings. He was named National League player of the week on Monday after tossing 22 scoreless innings in his last two starts.

He may go down as the best deadline acquisition in major league history.

But there’s a blemish gnawing at him on the other end, in the batter’s box, that he hasn’t been able to erase since arriving in Los Angeles. Scherzer hasn’t reached base in his 56 plate appearances this season. He’s 0 for 52 with three sacrifice bunts, one sacrifice fly, 23 strikeouts and one RBI in his 27 starts. He’s approaching history.

Wei-Yin Chen set the major league record for most plate appearances without reaching base on a hit, walk or hit by pitch over an entire season with 49 in 2016. Scherzer likely has three starts to avoid breaking the mark.

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Matthew Stafford cheers on old football teammate Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw delivers during the first inning Monday.
Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw delivers during the first inning Monday against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Clayton Kershaw made his return from the injured list Monday night at Dodger Stadium with a familiar face in the crowd. A night after throwing for three touchdowns in his Rams debut, Matthew Stafford, Kershaw’s childhood friend in Dallas, attended the Dodgers’ 5-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks in a Kershaw jersey.

Stafford watched Kershaw hold Arizona to one run over 4 1/3 innings after spending more than two months on the injured list because of forearm inflammation. Kershaw said he would’ve gone to see Stafford beat the Chicago Bears at SoFi Stadium on Sunday night if he wasn’t scheduled to pitch Monday. He settled for watching at home.

“He played awesome,” Kershaw said. “I know he’s excited to be there, and for him to come out and show support the day after is really cool.

“We’ve known each other for a long time and we played a lot of sports together growing up and it’s always fun to have somebody to cheer for in another sport, and Matthew is that guy for me. Now that we’re both in L.A, it’s kind of full circle. It’s pretty cool.”

Kershaw famously was Stafford’s center on an undefeated eighth-grade football team and in high school in Highland Park, Texas. Stafford went on to play at Georgia, become the No. 1 pick in the 2009 NFL draft, and spend 12 seasons with the Detroit Lions before he was traded to the Rams in January. He went 20 for 26 for 321 yards in Sunday’s 34-14 win.

Kershaw, meanwhile, is in the 14th season of a Hall of Fame career with the Dodgers, approaching the end of his contract and uncertainty this offseason.

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Clayton Kershaw’s return an important step for October-focused Dodgers

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw celebrates with his teammates in the dugout after exiting the game.
Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw celebrates with his teammates in the dugout after exiting the game in the fifth inning of a 5-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The scene Monday night at Dodger Stadium was familiar: Clayton Kershaw jogging out to the mound to pent-up roars in his return from an extended stint on the injured list. The circumstances, with less than three weeks left in the regular season, were not.

In the past, the Dodgers needed Kershaw to round into top form for the playoffs for a real chance to win the World Series. This year, barring injury, the team has three other Cy Young Award candidates — Max Scherzer, Walker Buehler and Julio Urías — primed for the heavy postseason lifting. As the Dodgers stand, they don’t need Kershaw to front the charge.

But a Dodgers postseason run wouldn’t be right without Kershaw, a future Hall of Famer and beloved clubhouse leader grateful for every October opportunity, and Monday was an encouraging step in the right direction. Pitching for the first time in more than two months, the left-hander, desperate to help his club in a pennant race, gave up one run over 4 1/3 innings in the Dodgers’ 5-1 win over the last-place Arizona Diamondbacks.

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Dodgers cruise to 5-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks

Reliever Mitch White retired the Diamondbacks in order to close out a 5-1 victory and extend the Dodgers’ winning streak to four games.

The Dodgers improved to 92-53 on the season and remain 2 1/2 games behind the NL-West leading San Francisco Giants, who clinched a playoff spot earlier tonight.

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Dodgers lead 5-1 going into the ninth inning

Diamondbacks: Mitch White took over for Corey Knebel on the mound for the Dodgers and recorded a 1-2-3 inning on 13 pitches. White will pitch the ninth for the Dodgers.

Dodgers: Diamondbacks reliever Jake Faria hit Mookie Betts with a pitch and gave up a single to Trea Turner. They were left stranded when Corey Seager grounded to first for the third out.

End of the eighth: Dodgers 5, Diamondbacks 1

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Justin Turner hits solo home run to give Dodgers 5-1 lead

Justin Turner follows through on his solo home run during the seventh inning.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Justin Turner hit a solo home run off Diamondbacks reliever Brandyn Sittinger to give the Dodgers a 5-1 lead in the seventh inning.

Turner’s 25th home run of the season — his second homer in as many days — came off an 84-mph slider that he sent into the left-field pavilion.

Cody Bellinger followed two-out Turner’s blast with sharp grounder down the right field line for a double. Gavin Lux then reached first when Arizona third baseman Josh VanMeter couldn’t corral a grounder and was charged with an error. The inning ended with Austin Barnes popping out to shallow left.

Diamondbacks: Corey Knebel is the fourth Dodgers pitcher of the game, striking out Josh VanMeter before issuing a walk to Pavin Smith. Ketel Marte and Carson Kelly each fly out to end the frame.

End of the seventh: Dodgers 5, Diamondbacks 1

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Dodgers take 4-1 lead on Austin Barnes’ RBI double

Austin Barnes doubles in a run for the Dodgers in the sixth inning.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Austin Barnes hit a run-scoring double to left field off Diamondbacks starter Zac Gallen to give the Dodgers a 4-1 lead in the sixth inning.

Gavin Lux, who drew a one-out walk, scored on Barnes’ eighth double of the season, which prompted Arizona to replace Gallen with reliever Brandyn Sittinger. Barnes and Matt Beaty, who was hit by a pitch, we’re left on the corners when Max Muncy popped out.

Diamondbacks: After Christian Walker flied out to Mookie Betts, Dodgers reliever Alex Vesia replaced Phil Bickford on the mound. Vesia gave up a single to Josh Rojas and walked Henry Ramos before striking out Andrew Young and Jake McCarthy to get out of the jam.

End of the sixth: Dodgers 4, Diamondbacks 1

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Dodgers lead 3-1 heading into the sixth inning

Arizona's Ketel Marte reacts after hitting a foul ball during the fifth inning.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Diamondbacks: After Clayton Kershaw got Zac Gallen to line out of the inning’s first out, Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford gave up a single to Nick Ahmed, who was originally out on the close play at first until the call was reversed on review. Ketel Marte grounded out and Carson Kelly popped out to strand Ahmed.

Dodgers: Corey Seager drove up the middle for a two-out single before Justin Turner flied out to left.

End of the fifth: Dodgers 3, Dodgers 1

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Clayton Kershaw’s abbreviated comeback start is in the books

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw throws to an Arizona Diamondbacks.
Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw throws during the first inning Monday.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Diamondbacks: Clayton Kershaw’s comeback night is over after 4 1/3 innings and 50 pitches. Playing in his first game off the injured list, Kershaw gave up four hits and struck out five, including Jake McCarthy and Josh Rojas in the fourth. Phil Bickford will take over in relief for the Dodgers.

Dodgers: After initially being called safe in a play at home plate, Gavin Lux was ruled out after a replay review determined he was tagged out at home by Diamondbacks catcher Carson Kelly. Lux tried to score from third on a sacrifice fly by Mookie Betts, but a well-placed throw by right fielder Jacob McCarthy got him for the final out of the inning.

Lux reached base on a leadoff single and Austin Barnes singled on fly ball that went against the shift beyond the right side of the diamond. Kershaw moved them to second and third on a sacrifice bunt before Betts’ at-bat.

End of the fourth: Dodgers 3, Diamondbacks 1

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Gavin Lux and Cody Bellinger avoid trainwrecking in the outfield

Diamondbacks: The Dodgers avoided a potential disaster when Gavin Lux and Cody Bellinger collided while trying to make a catch. Lux, who’s a newcomer for the Dodgers in left field, snagged the flyball off the bat of Carson Kelly but not before his glove smacked into Bellinger’s face and the two made relatively light contact.

Both players were fine, but it probably caused some breathlessness among the Dodger faithful out at the ravine. On the next play, Bellinger playfully waved off Lux as he made an uncontested catch on a Christian Walker popup to end the inning. Lux and Bellinger then shared a laugh as they jogged off the field.

Dodgers: The Dodgers went down in order, with Zac Gallen striking out Corey Seager and Justin Turner.

End of the third: Dodgers 3, Diamondbacks 1

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Clayton Kershaw’s hit and hustle draws a smile from former teammate Matthew Stafford

Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw throws during the first inning.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Dodgers at the plate: With Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford watching from behind home plate, Clayton Kershaw sprinted out a perfectly placed infield blooper the Diamondbacks couldn’t figure out. Kershaw showed a level of speed on the play that he probably never had when playing as an offensive lineman in front of Stafford in high school.

The almost chipshot-like hit and ensuing hustle drew a smile from Stafford and an enthusiastic reenactment from Max Scherzer in the dugout.

Mookie Betts drew a walk, but both he and Kershaw were left stranded when Max Muncy struck out and Trea Turner grounded out.

Diamondbacks at the plate: Kershaw looked more in control in the second inning than he did in the first. He allowed a one-out single to Jake McCarthy, who reached second on a sacrifice bunt by Zac Gallen. Kershaw then struck out Nick Ahmed for the second time tonight to end the 10-pitch frame.

End of the second: Dodgers 3, Diamondbacks 1

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Corey Seager and Justin Turner push Dodgers into the lead

Justin Turner drives hits a two-run double in the first inning Monday.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

A run-scoring single by Corey Seager followed by a two-run double by Justin Turner off Diamondbacks Zac Gallen gave the Dodgers a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the first.

Mookie Betts hit a leadoff double off Gallen into the left-field corner before advancing to third on a deep fly to left field by Max Muncy. Trea Turner then walked before Seager’s hit, which plated Betts.

Justin Turner then slapped a sharp liner into left field that scored Trea Turner and gave a hard-charging Seager enough time to score from first. Cody Bellinger and Gavin Lux grounded out to end the inning.

End of the first: Dodgers 3, Diamondbacks 1

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Diamondbacks jump out to 1-0 lead over the Dodgers

Arizona’s Josh Rojas hit a run-scoring single off Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw to give the Diamondbacks a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

Rojas connected on a Kershaw pitch just above the zone and lined it into center field to score Ketel Marte from second.

Kershaw heralded his return to the mound for the first time since July 3 by striking out Nick Ahmed with a perfect hanging curveball to open the game. After that, things didn’t go quite as well.

Kershaw gave up a double down the left-field line to Ketel Marte, then walked Carson Kelly. Christian Walker, who has four career homers against Kershaw, hit scorching liner to Mookie Betts for the second out. After Rojas’ hit, Kershaw struck out Henry Ramos to cap the frame. It took 20 pitches and a couple frustrated faces from Kershaw to get through the inning.

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Dodgers activate Clayton Kershaw for series opener vs. Diamondbacks

Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw delivers against the Texas Rangers on June 11.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

As expected, the Dodgers activated Clayton Kershaw from the 60-day injured list to start Monday against the Diamondbacks. Outfielder Steven Souza Jr. was designated for assignment to make room on the active and 40-man rosters.

Kershaw, 33, hasn’t pitched for the Dodgers since July 3. He landed on the injured list four days later because of elbow inflammation. He expected to return sooner but suffered a setback throwing in a simulated game in late July.

The left-hander threw 49 pitches over three innings on rehab assignment with triple-A Oklahoma City last Tuesday. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Kershaw could log up to four innings or 60 pitches Monday.

The Dodgers will remain without closer Kenley Jansen, who was placed on the paternity list Sunday after his wife gave birth to a girl. Gavin Lux will start in left field for the fourth straight game. He’s four for six with two walks and a double since getting called up from Oklahoma City on Friday.

DODGERS (91-53)
Mookie Betts RF
Max Muncy 1B
Trea Turner 2B
Corey Seager SS
Justin Turner 3B
Cody Bellinger CF
Gavin Lux LF
Austin Barnes C
Clayton Kershaw P

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Betting odds and lines for Dodgers vs. Diamondbacks on Monday

Fresh off of a home sweep of the San Diego Padres, the Dodgers send Clayton Kershaw to the mound for the first time since July 3 to face the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The long layoff for Kershaw did not lead to a short price on the Dodgers, as DraftKings opened the Dodgers as -280 favorites. They were -290 overnight despite Kershaw allowing 22 home runs in his past 16 home starts and going 3-4 in his last seven starts.

The Diamondbacks counter with Zac Gallen, whose ERA of 4.13 across his nine starts on the road is lower than his 4.50 home ERA. In three starts since the beginning of the 2020 season against the Dodgers, he has allowed four runs, two home runs and four walks across 19 innings.

The total opened at 8.5 at DraftKings and closed at eight overnight with -115 juice to the over on the overnight line despite seven of the last eight games between these two teams going over the total. All but one of those games had a total that closed at nine or higher.

The Dodgers have played five of their last 26 games over the total and are 19-4 against the Diamondbacks since the start of the 2020 season, with 15 of those wins coming by multiple runs.

VSiN, the Sports Betting Network, offers more expert sports betting content in a free daily email at VSiN.com/email.

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ICYMI: Max Scherzer records 3,000th strikeout, flirts with perfect game in Dodgers’ sweep

Dodgers pitcher Max Scherzer records his 3,000th career strikeout in win over Padres.

Max Scherzer zoomed past another signpost on the road to Cooperstown, N.Y., on Sunday, barely pausing to mark the 3,000th strikeout of a distinguished 14-year career that will culminate with his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

When the Dodgers right-hander whiffed Eric Hosmer with a full-count changeup in the fifth inning of an 8-0 victory over the San Diego Padres, catcher Will Smith tossed the milestone ball to the dugout and Scherzer doffed his cap to a roaring crowd of 42,637 in Chavez Ravine, the delay lasting all of about 20 seconds.

Scherzer had work to do, and his laser focus and disdain for distractions pushed the three-time Cy Young Award winner to the brink of even more history.

Scherzer retired the first 22 batters of the game, but five outs away from a perfect game — a feat accomplished by only 23 major leaguers — and with the drama and tension building with every out, he gave up a one-out double in the eighth to Hosmer, who laced a 2-and-1 changeup into the right-field corner.

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Max Scherzer could make Trevor Bauer a footnote in Dodgers history

Dodgers starting pitcher Max Scherzer is hugged by teammate Clayton Kershaw in the dugout.
Dodgers starting pitcher Max Scherzer is hugged by teammate Clayton Kershaw in the dugout during the eighth inning of an 8-0 win over the Padres on Sunday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

In the Sunday paper, Bill Plaschke called Trevor Bauer “officially the biggest embarrassment in Los Angeles Dodgers history.”

Maybe. But history seldom offers a silver lining more glistening than this: If Bauer is on the Dodgers’ roster, Max Scherzer is not.

With Scherzer here in place of Bauer, the Dodgers have a better chance to win the World Series. In his first eight starts with the Dodgers, Scherzer did something Bauer never has done in his career.

None of Bauer’s teams have won eight consecutive games in which he started.

Scherzer has started eight games for the Dodgers. The Dodgers have won every one. Scherzer’s record over those eight games: 6-0, with an 0.88 earned-run average, five walks and 72 strikeouts.

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